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FedEx destroyed my bike

Old 09-18-17, 12:04 PM
  #1  
chipdouglas
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FedEx destroyed my bike

Hi all, I shipped my brand new, $3k carbon Specialized - my daily commuter - coast to coast via BikeFlights for an endurance race. It was handled by FedEx and arrived with a golf ball-sized puncture in the carbon frame. 2 bike shops said it's beyond repair and that it would be more economical to buy a new bike vs replacing the frame, and Specialized won't cover as it's not a manufacturer's defect. I finished the race and shipped it back, at which point additional bike accessories were destroyed, having been delivered on its side. It was well-packed both ways, just destroyed by the violent apes and pro wrestlers at FedEx.

Because the BikeFlights part was just $60, I wasn't going to pay $200 in insurance, so I got the base - which covered only $100. That claim was paid, and the decision to go with the base is in the rear view now.

On its face it seems I am screwed and must buy a new bike, but I'm wondering if there are any nuclear options? Years ago we found our credit card paid for car accident damage, and I know some have had success calling out companies on Twitter etc. BikeFlights was eager to settle up for the $100 when I shared my situation, but at the end of the day, I paid for my bike to be transported and instead FedEx destroyed it. Any suggestions here or am I completely SOL?
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Old 09-18-17, 12:13 PM
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Should have used a good plastic hard case? Would have cost less than the insurance. There are companies that do carbon repair.
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Old 09-18-17, 12:19 PM
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Well, Fedex is free and clear on this. You shipped with BikeFlights so they are the responsible ones. I mentioned just such a scenerio before on a "bikeflights" discussion and got razzed to no end. I'm not against BikeFlights at all but there is a reason they are so cheap.

Sorry though for the problems.
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Old 09-18-17, 12:22 PM
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All I can say is shipping insurance exists for a reason. Tough way to learn, though.

I am interested in where exactly a golf ball sized hole could appear in a CF frame and have you be fine riding it in a race

Last edited by jefnvk; 09-18-17 at 12:26 PM.
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Old 09-18-17, 12:29 PM
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I am not sure that there is a nuclear option but a company that claims it is cyclists serving cyclists should be calling their shipper (FedEx in this case), and asking why an appropriately packed bicycle was destroyed while in their care and why the box was not marked as damaged along the way. If they do not do that or at least try to file a claim with FedEx and their own insurance co. for you and demand better treatment of packages or stop using them as their shipper, then what good are they and what service did they actually provide to you? Sounds like they just hope for the best and you will not be the only person to have their bicycle damaged. You could have taken it to FedEx yourself and had less grief.

Bottom line is that you should use whatever tools you can to warn others about your experience. I certainly would now think twice before using them.
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Old 09-18-17, 01:18 PM
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Fedex is not the company it was years ago. I've been working with very expensive equipment that ships all over the globe for many years. There was a time, I would have recommended fedex over any other carrier hands down. No more. Fedex has outsourced so much that it now has minimal control over how things are handled. Now independent people buy fedex routes, hire people for very low pay, and send them out doing pickups and deliveries. Since they don't get paid crap, they don't give a crap if your package is lost, broken, stolen, or sent to the right place.

This is especially true for fedex ground, which I consider to be likely the worst way to ship something if you want it to get there in one piece. About the only way I would send a bike with them is in an armored case, with a hell of a lot of padding inside.
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Old 09-18-17, 01:24 PM
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If you have any talent, at all, here's an example of what you can do:
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Old 09-18-17, 01:30 PM
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Check with your home owner's insurance. You may be surprised.
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Old 09-18-17, 01:32 PM
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What kind of case was it packed in?
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Old 09-18-17, 03:43 PM
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Having settled with Bike Flights, you may have a problem. But, I would have been on Fedex for having damaged the bike.

HOWEVER, I would look at the packing. Of course this is a bit late now, but I think packing for bikes should be a lot more robust. Do you have photos? What caused the golf ball sized hole? Penetration from outside the package, or inside the package?

When I was shipping computers earlier, everyone said to put 2" of foam on all sides of the computer, and to never have unprotected stuff bouncing together.

This isn't something that you're shipping one-way to never see it again. Spend the $5 to get the proper shipping materials. Go to your local building supply store and buy enough pipe insulation (and large enough) to cover all the main tubes of the frame and wheels, even those you don't think are at risk. Do moderate disassembly of the bike. And, make sure everything is protected.

What I've seen with bike boxes is that people are stuffing too much stuff into too small of a box. If I had my choice, I'd probably ship or carry the wheels, pedals, and other loose parts separate from the frame. Or, at least get a box large enough to get that 2" of separation between parts inside the box (not all shipping boxes are made the same).

As others have mentioned, if you're planning on doing this frequently, get the proper shipping cases and everything. Even if you aren't, look on Craigslist for a shipping box. Ship your bike, then resell the packing.
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Old 09-18-17, 04:01 PM
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Thanks for the feedback, all. Some feedback, in order received:

1. Carbon repair was refused by two companies who do carbon repair

2. Will DEF use hard plastic case next time and not rely on insurance

3. Frame holds up despite hole because it's wide at the junction, but is a timebomb. I've logged ~250 miles since, but it flexes more and more.

4. Yes, FedEx is garbage, but BikeFlights has great reviews. Lots of friends have used them without issue. Unfortunately, I got screwed 2/2 times so far.

5. No, I do not have that kind of A/V production talent unfortunately...

6. Will check homeowner's - thanks!

7. Was well-packed in cardboard with thick styrofoam and plastic
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Old 09-18-17, 04:30 PM
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Some photos of the bike and damage? What actually caused the damage? From outside the box or inside?

Oh, in case you haven't found it, to attach photos, go to the Advanced Editor, and click on the paper clip (attachments) icon JPG is best, and the system automatically resizes photos larger than 100 kb (I prefer to size my own images).
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Old 09-18-17, 04:47 PM
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IF, it was brand new, and IF you paid with a premium credit card, you might qualify under "purchase protection". The terms vary and the coverage period is limited, but it's something to consider.

Otherwise, you're SOL.

BTW - at the risk of being accused of blaming the victim, I'll add that serious damage isn't all that common, and for the bike to suffer this way on both legs of a round trip argues against the idea that it was well packed. Often people make serious good faith efforts at bulletproof packaging, but are hampered by lack of knowledge if exactly what's necessary to achieve that.
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Old 09-18-17, 04:59 PM
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I'm still trying to figure out where I would put a golf ball sized hole in a frame so that it would be stable with riding and racing, and still be irreparable. I suppose newer bikes have oversized tubes. Most of my bikes have golf ball sized tubes.

Have you discussed the damage with Calfee? Ruckus?

One issue is that round tubes tend to push something like a skewer away from the center of a tube, while a flat tube might just leave it there and let it grind on the frame.
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Old 09-18-17, 05:15 PM
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Let me get this straight- You ship a $3k bike and go with the base insurance that only covers $100.00 for damages? Hope you have better home and auto coverage!!
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Old 09-18-17, 05:28 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK View Post
One issue is that round tubes tend to push something like a skewer away from the center of a tube, while a flat tube might just leave it there and let it grind on the frame.
Skewer/axle into tube was my first thought. Got lazy with my packing last time, and opened the box to find the front wheel axle matched up perfectly with the downtube and trashed my paint/decal. Mine was steel, so no real damage, but looking at the gouging it left I have little problem thinking a CF may not have fared as well.

Originally Posted by chipdouglas View Post
2. Will DEF use hard plastic case next time and not rely on insurance
...
4. Yes, FedEx is garbage, but BikeFlights has great reviews. Lots of friends have used them without issue. Unfortunately, I got screwed 2/2 times so far
Plastic cases are IN ADDITION to insurance for things you don't want to pay to replace.

In addition, I can come up with anecdotes about any shipping company. I've had UPS leave two rifles on my front porch despite being marked 21+ Signature REQUIRED and a computer motherboard in a cardboard box in the rain. It is not really indicative of a worldwide corporation, rather your individual handlers or packing.
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Old 09-18-17, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by LarryFF View Post
Let me get this straight- You ship a $3k bike and go with the base insurance that only covers $100.00 for damages? Hope you have better home and auto coverage!!
I'm retired from a business that shipped many thousands of packages annually, including ones with fragile contents. We NEVER bought excess insurance, and cumulatively saved thousands even after eating some losses. And, yes FedEx was a primary carrier for us, mostly FedEx ground.

Knowing how to pack makes all the difference.

A friend has a business selling and shipping e-bikes all over the country. He uses FedEx almost exclusively, and also enjoys a very low claims rate.

it's not about which carrier you use, they're all both good and bad at the same time. It's knowing how to pack properly.

BTW for those who pay for transit coverage, be aware that they're good about paying for outright loss. But damage is a different story, and they may refuse to pay, citing improper packing. I don't know what bike flights is like, and their policy might be better since it's oriented toward individuals rather than businesses.
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Old 09-18-17, 06:34 PM
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PACKING, SHIPPING & RECEIVING

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Old 09-18-17, 06:44 PM
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I had a similar experience using BikeFlights. I accused BikeFlights of being an undesirable partner with FedEx, and my bike was the victim. They denied this bad relationship exists, but in a decade of shipping bikes with UPS and FedEx that was the only time my box was thrashed...and it was really trashed - like on purpose.

i still don't trust them.
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Old 09-18-17, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
BTW for those who pay for transit coverage, be aware that they're good about paying for outright loss. But damage is a different story, and they may refuse to pay, citing improper packing.
I've been slammed for insurance on E-Bay a lot. And hate it. The problem is that the companies regularly cite improper packing and refuse the claims (nor will they even refund the worthless insurance premiums).

Insurance probably only really helps when something is truly lost which is rare (lost at sea for international shipping)?

Unfortunately, bikes are regularly damaged in shipping, and a lot comes down to not packing them to be damage proof. I.E. The person packing needs to take the time and care to properly disassemble vulnerable items, and get it all wrapped well.

And for selling on E-Bay, amateur packing isn't an excuse.

Consider the following:
  • What can damage other parts? Wheels? Cassettes/Freewheels? Skewers? Handlebars?
  • What can be damaged? Rear Derailleur? Frame tubes?
  • What can be lost? Small parts? Skewers? Pedals? Screws?
  • Don't hack up cables you might need later.
Many reusable shipping containers also have posts to prevent crush damage.

And, if I was shipping $25 bikes vs $5000 bikes, I'd put a lot more effort into protecting the $5000 bikes. I assume big companies like Trek consider a tradeoff between expensive packing and "acceptable loss". For the individual, take the care to minimize the loss.
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Old 09-18-17, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
I'm retired from a business that shipped many thousands of packages annually, including ones with fragile contents. We NEVER bought excess insurance, and cumulatively saved thousands even after eating some losses. And, yes FedEx was a primary carrier for us, mostly FedEx ground.
Same here, and I never bought excess insurance from the shipping company (too expensive), but for expensive fragile items I did use a 3rd party insurer with whom I had a bulk rate. I came out ahead with it. It all depends on how expensive, and how fragile. Most stuff, like you, I didn't waste money on insurance.

Some (most) of the damage claims were most likely fraudulent claims by the customer. A point for the insurance is you can let the insurance company investigate - and they did - and not have to fight with crooks. That doesn't really pertain to someone shipping to himself though.

Knowing how to pack makes all the difference.
Bingo. Spend a little extra on boxes and packing, do it right and you almost never have damage. Literally one in a thousand, if that.
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Old 09-18-17, 07:34 PM
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Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Some (most) of the damage claims were most likely fraudulent claims by the customer. A point for the insurance is you can let the insurance company investigate - and they did - and not have to fight with crooks. That doesn't really pertain to someone shipping to himself though.
I don't believe that most of the claims are fraudulent by the customer, although I have wondered about a few E-Bay shippers that pack items poorly, and perhaps hope that they can hide undisclosed prior damage as a shipping claim.

One can hope for zero damage to a new or NOS bike. Did you pay for a battered scratched bike that you couldn't resell for half of what you paid?

The problem is that some shippers pack expecting that the packages will be carried around by hand and moved in padded/insulated boxes, and have "This-Side-UP" respected at all times when in reality the items are moved using automated systems on conveyor belts, packed with a bunch of stuff, stacked, and moved however it fits. A bike box for a quality road bike is generally light which is a benefit making carrying them easy, but they are extremely awkward to deal with.
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Old 09-18-17, 07:51 PM
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It's an annoying situation for sure, but a roll of the dice to not have insurance or better yet a hard case. I doubt you will get far trying to tweet the shipper into paying you extra but I'm told we learn by failure as well as success. Hope you get something you like even better as a replacement!
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Old 09-18-17, 08:00 PM
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Moving on from the "real damage or liars" debate, I'll share my No.1 secret of good packaging that gets to it's destination intact.

Most people think in terms of a strong box to protect the contents. IMO - the reverse is true, and in a well packed box the contents support and protect the box, whose real job it to keep everything together.

Think about cars for a moment, and why you wear seatbelts. Without them, the car crashes and slows as it crumples. meanwhile, you continue until you hit the now slower moving car and smash your face. The seatbelts protect you by making you part of the car. Now imagine how much better you'd do if the entire car was filled with foam so there was absolutely no room to move. Now you get the full measure of protection the car can offer, and the impacts are spread evenly over your entire body.

So, that's the secret of a good package. Filled to the brim so the closed box is a solid block and nothing can move within. With bikes, it may not be practical to fill the box solid, but you want bracing from the bike to the box at multiple strategic locations, -- both ends, top and bottom and 2 places on each side. Think about those styro corners they use for TVs, and use that principle as a guide.

Also make sure everything is tied together, including the bolsters. Otherwise items can shift out of place as the box flexes, or things compress and settle.

When I fly bikes or fragile stuff to Mexico, I pack in soft side duffels, that I line with 1/2" EPS sheets cut to size. Pack well protected stuff inside, then fill the bag solid with rolls of paper towels or toiled. These provide excellent protection yet are light enough not to be an issue, plus it means we don't have to buy Mexican paper products.

If shipping round trip to/from the same place, invest in blocks or thick sheets of foam, like what's used for mattress pads. Use them to either fill the box, or cut big blocks to tie to the bike where it counts. Also, skip the bubble, since once the bubbles break there's nothing left, though multiple layers of the smaller bubble sheets offer some redundancy. Instead use EPS sheets, or multiple layers of rolled corrugated cardboard.

Lastly, don't think only of designated packing material. When I travel, my clothing IS the packing material, saving me at least one piece of luggage.
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Old 09-18-17, 08:09 PM
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Originally Posted by shelbyfv View Post
It's an annoying situation for sure, but a roll of the dice to not have insurance or better yet a hard case. I doubt you will get far trying to tweet the shipper into paying you extra but I'm told we learn by failure as well as success. Hope you get something you like even better as a replacement!
In the final analysis Assurance is a far better investment than insurance. It's worth spending more upfront, both in dough and effort to assure zero damage. This spares you from living ending up with a damaged bike and arguing with folks about who's fault it is.

Of course there's also the risk of loss, so protect yourself by using 2 labels on the box, and/or adding a note on the outside ---- if found, please email xx@iwantmybike.com.

Unfortunately there's still no protection against theft, but that's not all that common.
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